What works for managing chronic pain?
Chronic pain is a very difficult health problem to treat. If you are in pain, you have probably tried a lot of treatments like pain medications, surgeries, and physical therapy. Chances are if you are reading this, your pain is still a problem for you. Let’s try to simplify this problem by starting with some basic ideas about chronic pain management:
- If you are in pain, it is real pain no matter what anyone says.
- Different treatments and tools work better for different people.
- A combination of treatments is usually better than any single treatment.
- If you improve your overall physical and mental health, you can reduce your pain.
On this page, you will learn about the four most common methods to help you manage your pain. The pain management tools below come from research and clinical experience. They also come from the personal experiences of people who live with chronic pain and have learned to manage it well. The most successful pain management programs are usually made up of a few tools from each category. Some of these are things you can do on your own. Others are services or procedures that have to be done by a trained and licensed health provider.
- Integrative Pain Management Services
- Interventional Pain Management Services
- Pharmacologic (Drug) Therapies
- Lifestyle Habits to Manage Pain
These non-drug and non-surgical services are becoming more and more popular for treating chronic pain like low back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, and other
non-cancer pain. Use your favorite search engines to search for each of these services and find a practitioner in your area:
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Massage therapy
- Mindfulness-based pain reduction
- Physical therapy/Exercise therapy
These are surgical procedures that can usually be done in an outpatient setting. You can also talk with your doctor for more information. A few examples are:
- Injection therapy
- Radiofrequency nerve ablation
- Spinal cord electrical stimulators
- Pain pump implants
Treating chronic pain with drugs is very difficult. The drugs that work well for one person may not work for another person or could make them sick. Pain doctors usually try one or a combination of different pain management drugs to help their patients. Below is a list of some common drug strategies that pain doctors use to help manage chronic pain.
|Drug Action||Drug Example|
|Reduce pain perception||Hydrocodone|
|Reduce nerve pain||Gabapentin|
|Reduce brain pain / depression||Cymbalta|
|Help with sleep||Ambien|
Some of these drugs are habit forming and can be dangerous by themselves or used together. Many of them also have unwanted side effects. If you are using or seeking drug therapy for your pain, it is important that your doctor works with you closely and monitors your progress and health.
When people work on improving their physical and mental health, they are often better at managing their pain. Here are the top seven things you can do to improve your health and manage your chronic pain.
- Take all your medications exactly as prescribed.
- Make sleep a priority.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet.
- Use mindfulness techniques like meditation.
- Move your body regularly.
- Be social.
- Set goals.